[[caption-width-right:300:''[[Music/FrankSinatra If it could happen]] [[UsefulNotes/NaziGermany there]]\\
It could happen anywhere\\
So watch out, Jews\\
New Reich, New Reich!'']]

''It Can't Happen Here'' is a speculative fiction novel written by Creator/SinclairLewis and published in 1935.

In the novel, the United States succumbs to a totalitarian government headed by Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a charismatic politician who wins over the voters through populism and empty promises. With his cadre of advisors and a brutal militia of Minute Men (M.M.s), Windrip oversees a new era of poverty, oppression, and fear. Women and minorities are stripped of their rights, dissent is outlawed, and those who displease the government are imprisoned in concentration camps or killed.

Meanwhile, a Vermont newspaper publisher named Doremus Jessup watches these developments in horror. Doremus is torn between his own safety and the safety of his family, and his moral responsibility to speak out against the regime. After one of Windrip's advisors murders two innocent men in a drunken rage, Doremus is galvanized into using his voice.

Adapted by Lewis himself into a 1936 stage play produced by the Federal Theatre Project. Also inspired the sci-fi series ''Series/{{V|1983}}''. Not to be confused with the [[Film/ItHappenedHere British alternate history film based on a similar premise]].

!!''It Can't Happen Here'' provides examples of:

* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Among the casualties of Windrip's coup are some of the very people who put him in power.
* BilingualBonus: When Doremus asks Lorinda about translating German, she replies that the only German she knows is a phrase Buck taught her: "God bless you" (''Verfluchter Schweinehund''). ''Verfluchter Schweinehund'' actually means "damned pig-dog".
* BittersweetEnding: Doremus returns to America to encourage dissidents, thereby playing a vital role in the resistance against the government. However, he's constantly on the move to evade Corpos and unable to see his loved ones. Even in a best case scenario, it will likely be years before he can settle down with Lorinda and Sissy again.
* BlackShirt: The Minute Men (M.M.s).
* BookBurning: The Windrip regime orders the burning of any book that might be perceived as subversive. Even Creator/PGWodehouse's books get burned because he makes fun of the nobles.
* BookDumb: Much of the American populace after the Windrip regime's educational "reforms", {{book burning}}s, and censorship campaigns. Institutions of higher learning have been eviscerated, and the remaining schools only teach practical or useless classes, meaning that much of the populace is ignorant of history, literature, and civics. When citizens revolt against the Corpos, this works against them as well as the Corpos.
-->So, after the first gay eruptions of rioting, the revolt slowed up. Neither the Corpos nor many of their opponents knew enough to formulate a clear, sure theory of self-government, or irresistibly resolve to engage in the sore labor of fitting themselves for freedom ... Even yet, after Windrip, most of the easy-going descendants of the wisecracking Benjamin Franklin had not learned that Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" meant anything more than a high-school yell or a cigarette slogan.
* CivilWar: A large-scale resistance mounts after Haik takes power.
* ColdBloodedTorture: The M.M.s delight in torturing detainees at the concentration camps. A favorite torture at Trianon is whipping prisoners and force-feeding them castor oil.
* CrappyHolidays:
** Christmas under Corpoism is, unsurprisingly, a decidedly non-joyful affair for the Jessup family.
-->To make the holiday as good an imitation of mirth as possible, they were very noisy, but their holly, their tinsel stars on a tall pine tree, their family devotion in a serene old house in a little town, was no different at heart from despairing drunkenness in the city night. Doremus reflected that it might have been just as well for all of them to get drunk and let themselves go, elbows on slopped café tables, as to toil at this pretense of domestic bliss. He now had another thing for which to hate the Corpos—for stealing the secure affection of Christmas.
** Doremus is arrested by the M.M.s and taken to Trianon on the Fourth of July.
* DayOfTheJackboot
* DeadSparks: Doremus and Emma.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: Windrip's administration. His closest advisors are constantly vying for power, and coups abound by the end of the novel. They also aren't slouches in the "decadent" department; Macgoblin once hosts meetings with business leaders in a Roman-era ship with nude hostesses, while Sarason hosts orgies with handsome young men [[spoiler: after he exiles Windrip]].
* DepravedHomosexual: Lee Sarason and the handsome M.M.s he surrounds himself with.
* DividedStatesOfAmerica: When the resistance against Haik's regime mounts in earnest, sizeable chunks of America come under dissident control.
* DyeOrDie: Sissy and Lorinda dye Doremus's hair and mustache black and shave off his beard prior to smuggling him into Canada.
* DystopiaIsHard: Poverty and economic downturns are the fruits of Windrip's regime, much to Windrip's dismay.
* TheExile: Canada becomes a destination for American refugees fleeing the Windrip regime.
** Windrip himself is ousted from power by Lee Sarason and forced to live in exile in Europe. Similarly, Macgoblin flees after a coup and lives in exile in the Haitian countryside.
* EmergencyAuthority: President Windrip declares a state of emergency (or the 1930s equivalent expression) immediately after taking office, dismisses Congress and the Supreme Court and suspends the Constitution, becoming the dictator of the USA. (Needless to say [[IronicEpisodeTitle It Happens Here]].)
* FascistButInefficient: The Windrip regime is efficient when it comes to suppressing dissent. On matters of education and the economy, not so much.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Buzz Windrip, the folksy, good-humored senator turned fascist dictator.
** Effingham Swan, the military judge, is more of a WickedCultured version.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Ominous weather foreshadows the arrival of M.M.s at the Jessop home, who proceed to vandalize the house, brutalize Doremus, and eventually haul Doremus away to Trianon.
* TheFundamentalist: Karl Pascal, a die-hard communist. His ideological fervor reaches a fevered pitch during his incarceration at Trianon, much to his cellmates' annoyance.
* GoodAdulteryBadAdultery: Doremus and Lorinda have had an ongoing affair behind Emma's back. The affair is depicted as positive, since the two are intellectual equals who are passionately in love.
* GovernmentInExile: Trowbridge's resistance movement after he finds refuge in Canada.
* HellholePrison: The concentration camps. Trianon is a filthy, crowded, miserable prison where guards torture detainees with whippings and force-feed them castor oil.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Several real-life public figures of the '30s (including UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt, UsefulNotes/HueyLong, and Father Charles Coughlin) are mentioned in passing.
** Which is rather interesting, when you consider that characters like Windrip and Bishop Prang are clearly intended as [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed stand-ins]] for people like Long and Coughlin.
* TheHorseshoeEffect:
--> ... he denounced all "Fascism" and "Nazi-ism," so that most of the Republicans who were afraid of Democratic Fascism, and all the Democrats who were afraid of Republican Fascism, were ready to vote for him.
* IronicName: The original Trianon was a lavish French royal palace constructed as an adjunct to Versailles. The American version is a concentration camp, with all the "luxury" that that implies.
* JustFollowingOrders: Emil Staubmeyer's excuse, when he and the other M.M.s show up at Doremus's house to burn his books.
* KangarooCourt: How the Windrip regime tries dissidents. Doremus is hauled before one before being incarcerated at Trianon.
* KarmaHoudini: Windrip and Macgoblin. [[spoiler:Both of them are removed from power but live in comfortable exile afterwards.]]
* LaResistance: Lorinda, Doremus, and several members of the Jessop household disseminate forbidden news that they receive from Canada. At the end of the novel, a full-blown rebellion against the Haik regime has erupted across the country.
* MexicoCalledTheyWantTexasBack: Inverted. The regime invades Mexico as a means of spreading its empire and encouraging patriotism among the masses. Played with in that the regime falsely claims Mexico attacked America as justification for the war. (This being something of a HistoricalInJoke, as the real Mexican-American War was justified by a similar imaginary invasion. And of course, [[HarsherInHindsight four years later]], the Nazis themselves used a {{false flag|Operation}} attack as a ''casus belli'' for [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII invading Poland]].)
* TheMigration: American refugees begin steadily pouring into Canada.
* ANaziByAnyOtherName: The Windrip regime is led by a charismatic dictator and characterized by racism, jingoism, vicious suppression of dissent, concentration camps, and foolish wars of conquest. To boot, the Corpo Youth is reminiscent of the Hitler Youth.
* NextSundayAD: The novel, written in 1935, depicts the 1936 Presidential election and its aftermath.
* NobleDemon: Some of the higher-minded Corpos are described as this.
-->They were the idealists of Corpoism, and there were plenty of them, along with the bullies and swindlers; they were the men and women who, in 1935 and 1936, had turned to Windrip & Co., not as perfect, but as the most probably saviors of the country from, on one hand, domination by Moscow and, on the other hand, the slack indolence, the lack of decent pride of half the American youth ... They were proud of new Corpo roads, hospitals, television stations, aeroplace lines; they were touched by processions of the Corpo Youth, whose faced were exalted with pride in the myths of Corpo heroism and clean Spartan strength and the semi-divinity of the all-protecting Father, President Windrip.
* NoEnding: The novel ends rather abruptly [[spoiler:with the United States engulfed in a civil war. We don't find out whether the resistance will win, and what will be Doremus' eventual fate.]]
* NoWomansLand: The Windrip regime robs women of many rights and bars them from most occupations. Lorinda and Sissy chafe under the regime's misogyny.
* OppressiveStatesOfAmerica: The TropeCodifier.
* PoliceBrutality: Many of the M.M.s are bullies at best and sadists at worse, perpetrating atrocities against dissenters and minorities.
* PoliceState
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: The regime uses propaganda to teach their version of history. Not helped by its book burnings and evisceration of the educational system.
* PrayerOfMalice: Before being executed at Trianon, Falck cries out a vengeful prayer against his oppressors.
--> "Father, Thou hast forgiven so long! Forgive them not but curse them, for they know what they do!"
* PropagandaMachine: The fascist regime exerts rigid control over all media, reporting rose-colored news to the masses. The media leaves out inconvenient stories such as revolts against M.M.s, refugees fleeing to Canada, and global events. One of the tasks of the resistance is importing factual news from Canada and secretly disseminating it to citizens.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: Some of Windrip's diplomatic appointments are hinted at being this.
-->It was said, though Doremus Jessup could never prove it, that Windrip learned from Lee Sarason the Spanish custom of getting rid of embarrassing friends and enemies by appointing them to posts abroad, preferably quite far abroad.
* ReignOfTerror: When Windrip's regime takes power, the M.M.s perpetrate atrocities against minorities and dissenters. When Haik takes power, it gets even ''worse''.
* SpiritualSuccessor: George Orwell's ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour'', published fourteen years after ''It Can't Happen Here''. Both depict formerly democratic nations that succumb to totalitarianism. Both novels feature protagonists who find salvation in their lovers, rebel against the government through the written word, and endure torture and incarceration.
* TheStarscream: Sarason is this to Windup. Haik is later this to Sarason.
* TakeThat: Several against Upton Sinclair, who is described as a supporter of Windrip.
** William Randolph Hearst, and his newspapers, are described as willing propagandists for Windrip and the Corpos even after the dictatorship is established.
* TortureAlwaysWorks: Subverted. Doremus and other characters are deeply traumatized from torture at Trianon, but they do not betray each other or abandon their convictions.
* UndergroundRailroad: How many refugees flee to Canada including Dorms.
* {{Unperson}}: Bishop Prang becomes this after traveling to Washington to complain to Windrip about some of his more brutal actions since taking office.
* VicePresidentWho: Ineffectual VP Perley Beecroft plays no part in the power struggles, except perhaps for declaring a Congressional quorum while most of them are stuck in jail.
* WarForFunAndProfit: The regime's war on Mexico is essentially this.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: Doremus tries to join the Communists so he could fight against the Windrip regime, but gives up when he hears that they're unwilling to work together with other opposition forces, like the Socialists or Trowbridge.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Doremus describes Bishop Prang as one of these.
-->"That's why he's such a real Fascist menace--he's so confoundedly humanitarian, in fact so Noble, that a majority of people are willing to let him boss everything!"
* YouCannotKillAnIdea: The moral of the novel is that noble people will always fight for justice against oppressive regimes. The last lines of the novel stress this.
-->And still Doremus goes on in the red sunrise, for a Doremus Jessup can never die.
* YouCantMakeAnOmelette: Doremus's son Philip uses the phrase defending the regime. Doremus reacts with anger.
-->"If I ever hear that 'can't make an omelet' phrase again, I'll start doing a little murder myself! It's used to justify every atrocity under every despotism, Fascist or Nazi or Communist or American labor war. Omelet! Eggs! By God, sir, men's souls and blood are not eggshells for tyrants to break!"
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Sarason exiles Windrip, only to be assassinated by Haik.